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Former BHS boss says Bahamas holiday claim is 'complete rubbish'

Published 23/06/2016

Dominic Chappell denied allegations over a Bahamas holiday, and made a number of counter-claims
Dominic Chappell denied allegations over a Bahamas holiday, and made a number of counter-claims

BHS's former owner has denied allegations that he attempted to pay for a holiday to the Bahamas out of the struggling retailer's finances.

The accusation, made by the department store chain's chief executive Darren Topp, was branded "the most pathetic thing I've ever come across" and "complete rubbish" by Dominic Chappell, who made a series of counter-claims.

In written evidence submitted to MPs investigating BHS's collapse, Mr Topp accused Mr Chappell of seeing "no distinction between the company's money and his own personal money".

"Chappell attempted to buy a set of family holiday flights in December 2015 on the company travel budget; this was spotted by Darren Topp and stopped immediately much to the annoyance of Chappell."

He added that BHS's HR department instead sanctioned an early salary payment on the grounds of "hardship" ahead of a "family Christmas vacation to the Bahamas", despite a consortium led by Mr Chappell "having taken out millions of pounds" from the firm that year.

However, Mr Chappell said "there was no intent whatsoever to have the company pay for my private travel", claiming that it was an "issue of logistics" as he did not have access to his credit cards at the time. He also said that the early salary payment was in fact suggested by BHS management.

He also alleges that Mr Topp put a first class season rail ticket through the business, costing "at least £5-6K".

Branding Mr Topp "childish", he added: "He also was running his brand new Porsche through the company insurance scheme. Neither of which he had board approval to do. He also paid himself another large bonus in or around March 2016."

Mr Chappell and the man who sold BHS to him for £1, Sir Philip Green, have come under intense fire over the retailer's collapse. Sir Philip was grilled by MPs last week who probed him over £400 million in dividends he took out of BHS, leaving it with a £571 million pension deficit, and for selling it to former bankrupt Mr Chappell.

In Mr Topp's evidence in front of MPs, he also accused Mr Chappell of threatening to kill him and branded him a "premier league liar" who had his "fingers in the till".

The 163-store chain is in the process of being wound down by administrator Duff & Phelps.

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